This week is Anger Awareness Week! Is anger affecting your life? When does it tend to strike? Perhaps it is at work, when your boss doesn’t appreciate your input. Maybe it is at home, when planning your finances, deciding who is going to cook dinner tonight, or even when choosing what to watch on TV (FYI I’m A Celeb should win every time). What about when you are in car, and someone carelessly undertakes you?
While anger is a healthy emotion, triggered by the body’s fight or flight response, if it is not managed positively and effectively, some pretty nasty side effects can develop. No matter what causes your blood to boil or where anger strikes, we at LDC have put together a list of ways to control your anger before it controls you…
…And relax. Breathing from your diaphragm, the main muscle that assists with respiration, slows your heartbeat down and relaxes your body, helping to calm your anger. Take a deep breath, hold it for 5 seconds and then breathe out. By putting one hand on your stomach, you’ll be able to feel it expanding as you breathe in (since the diaphragm is filling with air) and retracting as you breathe out. Repeat this exercise until you are feeling a little calmer – around 4 or 5 times should do the trick!
Take a time out
This could be as simple as counting to ten – chances are, that by the time you reach number 10, you will have thought of a better way of telling your boss to f*** off (you’re welcome). Or, it could be more planned, giving yourself regular breaks throughout the day at times you know are likely to be stressful.
Do you feel yourself becoming tense when you’re angry? Take a moment to stretch out. Roll your shoulders. Heck, give yourself a full on head massage. Focusing on tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body can distract you from any negative feelings. Stress-relief toys are also helpful here, because they encourage you into this sort of “progressive muscle relaxation” (the fancy term for it, ooooh).
Chin up (seriously)
When you are feeling negative, you are more likely to look down. So, by changing your physical position and looking upwards, you can interrupt this negative thinking pattern. Any sudden movement or physical change can work. Perhaps try standing up, shake it off, have a dance…
Think before you speak
In the heat of the moment, it is easy to say something that you’ll later regret. And once the words have left your mouth, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten!
Longer Term Solutions
Keep a journal or diary
As BAAM [says, keeping a journal “is a powerful way of not internalising your anger. Your journal can be used as and when you need [it]. Record how you feel about what happened, and your views on a problem. By using your journal, it will bring clarity to the situation.” It might even help you uncover what might be behind your anger.
Top tip: At the end of each day, write down three things that went well or that you are grateful for. You could even write down things you are looking forward to. PMA (positive mental attitude)
Take some “me time”
Sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen all day doesn’t help with anger issues. So, rather than thinking “give me a break”, actually take a break! Use this break to find positive ways to express yourself and do something you enjoy. And just so you know, it is recommended that you have a break of at least 10 to 14 continuous days off work, annually.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be Yoga or Pilates (although these have mindful benefits). You could join a boxing class to physically relieve that stress and aggression.
As helpguide.org says, “not only does excise [relieve] stress, lower blood pressure, and release powerful endorphins that improve your mood, it can also put some welcome time and space between you and the stressful or frustrating situation”, clearing your mind. Regular exercise also enables your body to become more resilient to stress.
Get enough sleep
Another excuse to hit the snooze button (yay!). By having a good night’s sleep, you are less likely to get agitated, irritable or angrier that usual. And, in the long term, sleep deprivation can increase your risk of developing a mood disorder, like depression (yikes). While everyone’s needs are different, experts suggest that the average adult should have around seven or eight hours of sleep per night.
Go here for more tips on the best ways to get the best shut eye.
Create an action plan
Identify what causes you to become angry or triggers a negative emotion. Then, take some time to eliminate these triggers and regain control of the situation. For example, if “severe delays” on the Central Line make you MAD, why not try and find an alternative route to work.
Form a support network
Find a group of people (it will help if they have a generally positive outlook) that you can call when you need to. They might give you a different perspective on a situation, some well-needed advice, or simply lend an ear. And when you aren’t feeling your best, you can draw on their positive energy.
Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Finally, know when it is time to see the doctor
There are various resources and treatments out there that can help you out. And, as always, LDC is here for you or any other service you could need at a GP Surgery (with 8 private clinics locations across London, why not give us a visit?).